Family donates $1 million to develop youth mental health resources | May 20, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 20, 2022

Family donates $1 million to develop youth mental health resources

To carry on son's legacy, the Tone Yao Lee scholarships will support mental health educators, psychologists and research

by Sue Dremann

The family of a Palo Alto man who died by suicide in October 2021 has made a $1 million donation to create a scholarship fund at Santa Clara University with a special purpose: to advance community mental health care for young adults by bolstering the number of trained psychologists and mental health educators and by funding mental health research in perpetuity.

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Email Staff Writer Sue Dremann at [email protected]


Posted by Michelledb
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 20, 2022 at 10:55 am

Michelledb is a registered user.

What a tragic death and a beautiful way to honor their son’s life. He sounds like a wonderful person. We are losing way too many young people to suicide.

Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 20, 2022 at 11:09 am

vmshadle is a registered user.

I completely agree, Michelledb. My condolences to this young man's family, friends, and wider community.

Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 20, 2022 at 11:55 am

Marc Vincenti is a registered user.

To Ton Yao Lee's family, I offer my sincere condolences. He was surely an extraordinary young man. I wish I had some words to ease your pain.

And I'm sorry for the effect that his death may have on so many Palo Altans—who may be suffering post-traumatic stress from our tragedies of the preceding decade.

This young man's death by his own hand at age 22 shows that our local high schools—which over the years have purported to impart "connection," "resilience," and "grit"—are still failing to lastingly cultivate health in the most vulnerable among their students.

Years of neglect of the real problem—neglect by the superintendent, the school board, and school principals—have left us scarcely better off than we were in 2009-2014, when eleven Palo Alto teenagers took their own lives.

What are the answers? Unfortunately the healthy, simple, practical solutions proposed by the "Save the 2,008" campaign were treated with disastrous disdain by our officials. Over the years "Challenge Success," too, has not been adequately welcomed in our schools.

Anyone who read the recent, lengthy front-page articles in the New York Times on the epidemic of at-risk teens in this country surely understands that we are a long way from understanding this crisis, that it continues to threaten us, and that it will not solve itself.

I am so sorry for the loss of this young man.

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